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Gordon signs budget with many vetoes; Wyoming Freedom Caucus calls for special session

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon speaks to visitors to the Wyoming Capitol building after his State of the State Adress.
David Dudley
/
Wyoming Public Media
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon speaks to visitors to the Wyoming Capitol building after his State of the State Adress.

On Saturday, March 23, Gov. Mark Gordon signed the budget presented to him by the Wyoming Legislative 67th budget session.But, his final signature came with many line-item vetoes. Almost immediately, the Wyoming Freedom Caucus called for a special session to respond to those vetoes.

The Governor thanked the legislature for including many issues that he outlined as important in his State of the State Address. Those included funding for the 988 suicide lifeline, school construction, property tax relief and increased savings for the future.

However, he also expressed disappointment with how close the legislature was to not passing a budget in a timely manner. The budget had over 300 amendments, which Gordon said were introduced to save legislation that had failed earlier in the session.

To set an example, he vetoed a couple of these amendments, including an allocation of $2 million to help update a failing water tank in Wheatland.

He also vetoed a section of the budget that defunds the University of Wyoming’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), more specifically a line that would’ve prohibited any state funds from going to any DEI program, function or activity. Even with this line veto, Gordon kept the line that doesn’t allow any state funds to go to the UW DEI office itself.

He also vetoed language that placed limits on executive branch salary increases, saying it infringed on separation of powers.

The Wyoming Freedom Caucus has called for a special session to respond to the governor’s vetoes.

“Speaker of the House Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale) and President of the Senate Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower) chose to adjourn [the session] early, with three legislative workdays still available to complete the work of the people of Wyoming, foreclosing the ability to override the Governor’s vetoes,” wrote Wyoming Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. John Bear (R-Gillette).

However, in an op-ed responding to those calls, Sommers and Driskill said that although they are also disappointed with the Governor’s vetoes, “a special session is unlikely to effectively address the Governor’s vetoes.”

They said all the bills and actions of the 2024 Budget Session by the Legislature are finished.

“We do not recall the legislators who are now clamoring for a special session formally asking us or the chambers to utilize our three extra days. The very legislators who are asking for a special session created delay after delay during the budget session by asking for roll call votes, trying to resurrect zombie bills, bringing procedural motions, and filibustering debate,” legislative leadership continued.

If a special session were called, it would cost approximately $35,000/day. Driskill and Sommers said it would most likely take eight to ten days, meaning upwards of $350,000 of taxpayer dollars.

If no special session is convened, the budget will go into effect July 1.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. She has won a regional Murrow award for her reporting on mental health and firearm owners. During her time leading the Wyoming Public Media newsroom, reporters have won multiple PMJA, Murrow and Top of the Rockies Excellence in Journalism Awards. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.

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